Toyota will take control of the company’s FIA World Rally Championship programme next season from Tommi Mäkinen Racing.
The Japanese manufacturer announced on Tuesday morning that Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe, will take full responsibility for the company’s activities, with Mäkinen stepping aside.
The Finn, who has run Toyota’s WRC programme since the company returned to the sport in 2017, will take on a role as motorsport advisor to Toyota Motor Corporation from January next year.
The WRC team will continue to be run from Mäkinen’s two bases in Finland and Estonia, which Toyota has acquired.
Facilities in Puppola, near Jyväskylä, are currently used for research and development with the build of its Toyota Yaris rally cars taking place in the Estonian capital of Tallinn.
Mäkinen said the goal of the Toyota WRC-project was to restart the manufacturer’s world rallying operation effectively with the flexible organization which only a small company could achieve.
“I am happy to say that this goal has now been reached and it is time for me to move on to new challenges with Toyota,” he explained.
“I want to thank Akio Toyoda for trusting me with this project and supporting us all the way to reach the goals we set together. I am looking forward to continue the work with him, designing the future of Toyota in motorsports.
“We are happy that as planned Toyota now decided to acquire the WRC-operations we have built together and I am also very happy of the way Toyota provides our experts with a steady home and future as Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team.
“It is also important to me that operations will still stay in Jyväskylä and Tallinn, while the Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe takes the team under its wing.”
Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, paid tribute to Mäkinen’s role in the manufacturer’s successful return to the WRC after an 18-year absence.
“It was only after I met Tommi that I was able to decide on Toyota’s return to the WRC,” he said. “It is because of his support that we are able to win at the WRC.
“Going forward, he will be our motorsports advisor. In addition to providing expert advice on how to win races, as he has been doing, we expect him to provide a broad range of advice so that Toyota can produce ever-better cars.”
Under Mäkinen’s leadership, Toyota won the WRC manufacturers’ championship in 2018 and Ott Tänak lifted the drivers’ crown last year.
Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier are first and second in the 2020 drivers’ standings after last weekend’s Rally Turkey and Toyota holds a nine-point lead in the manufacturers’ points over Hyundai Motorsport.